One of the things that stuck with me since living in Wales as a child was the hostility amongst Welsh workers to Churchill as a result of his sending the troops and police into the valleys to help the coal owners defeat the striking miners, some of whom were shot. Indeed during the General Election in 1945 Churchill was booed by workers. The myth of the much loved Winston is just that – a carefully crafted Tory myth.
Churchill’s reputation was made primarily in imperial affairs. It is indisputable that Churchill was primarily responsible for the slaughter at Gallipolli in 1915. [See Winston Churchill’s World War Disaster]
Previously there was his period as Home Secretary when he took personal control of the Sydney Street siege in January 1911. Two Latvian revolutionaries were holed up there and they were besieged by police and troops. When the building caught fire he ordered the fire brigade not to put the flames out and allowed those inside to burn to death. As Colonial Secretary he presided over Partition in Ireland and over the beginning of the Mandate in Palestine. In Palestine he introduced the murderous Black and Tans who had seen bloody service in Ireland.
Whether it was sending in the army to protect the coal owners in Wales or presiding over the famine in Bengal in 1942, Churchill was a mass murderer. Churchill’s whole career had been dedicated to the preservation of the Empire and the privileges of his class. In January 1931 he resigned from the Conservative Shadow Cabinet over self-government for India.
Churchill made his reputation in the second world war, primarily through his fighting speeches. However his opposition to Hitler was not from an anti-fascist perspective. He saw Hitler as a threat to British interests. Initially he had welcomed Hitler as an anti-communist. During the War Churchill was distinguished by his refusal to do anything to alleviate the position of the Jews including the bombing of Auschwitz and the railway lines leading up to it. He was however a die hard Zionist and that is why Zionist supporters loved him despite his undoubted anti-Semitism.
During the war he advocated the mass bombing of German cities like Dresden and Nuremburg. Thousands died as a result yet the end of the war was not advanced as a result. These were undoubtedly war crimes.
When Greece was liberated on October 12th by the Communist led resistance British troops entered two days later with the prime aim of keeping out the communists. Churchill put the local Nazi collaborators back in power as his main goal was keeping the Greek Resistance (ELAM/ELAS) dominated by the Communists out of power. He supported a bloodbath of Greek Resistance fighters who had fought Hitler. His order to the troops was:
You are responsible for maintaining order in Athens and for neutralizing or destroying all EAM-ELAS [National Liberation Front – Greek People’s Liberation Army] bands approaching the city. You may make any regulations you like for the strict control of the streets or for the rounding up of any number of truculent persons…. It would be well of course if your command were reinforced by the authority of some Greek Government…. Do not, however, hesitate to act as if you were in a conquered city where a local rebellion is in progress…. We have to hold and dominate Athens. It would be a great thing for you to succeed in this without bloodshed if possible, but also with bloodshed if necessary.
In December 1944: Nazi troops were still resisting the Allies, who were making slow progress in Italy and being pushed back in the Ardennes faced with the Wehrmacht’s final counter-offensive. Yet the “bands” here targeted by Churchill were not groups of collaborators, but the partisans of the great National Liberation Front (EAM), which had for three years mounted mass resistance against the German occupiers.
In December 1944, taking away troops from the Italian front, Churchill ordered the Military Governor Scobie to crush the rebels. Arms, planes and ever more troops (up to 75,000 men) were diverted from the Italian front to Greece. The EAM’s proposals for negotiations were rejected. Churchill relied on the very same forces that had collaborated with the Nazis. See also Athens 1944: Britain’s dirty secret
In a demonstration held in Athen’s Syntagma Square 24 peaceful demonstrators were killed with hundreds wounded. Ed Vulliamy and Helen Smith wrote:
This was the day, those 70 years ago this week, when the British army, still at war with Germany, opened fire upon – and gave locals who had collaborated with the Nazis the guns to fire upon – a civilian crowd demonstrating in support of the partisans with whom Britain had been allied for three years.
December 3, 1944, saw a monster demonstration in Syntagma Square to demand Papandreou’s resignation and the constitution of a new government. The massacre that followed — the police opened fire on unarmed civilians, leaving over twenty dead and more than a hundred wounded — triggered the insurrection of the people of Athens. This was the pretext that Churchill had sought in order to be able to break the Resistance.
It was contended that the British army hadn’t opened fire but the Greek Police, who were under their direction, had. SeeGuardian Reader’s Editor. Regardless the fact is that the then Greek government under George Papandreou had integrated the Nazi-controlled Security Battalions into the National Guard.
Historian André Gerolymatos held a conference in British Columbia on the question of the role of British troops and concluded that:
“Under the best of circumstances the integration of the security battalions into the national guard and later in the new Greek army, both being trained by the British until 1947, was grotesque and has coloured the memory of the participants and what recollections they passed on to their descendants.”
Churchill’s famous tract Zionism and Bolshevism was published in the Illustrated Sunday Herald on 8 February 1920. Suffice to say Churchill was not overfond of revolutionary Jews! He wrote of the ‘International Jew’ as being responsible for all the ills his class suffered from, including the French Revolution! The Zionists had no problem with this as they were of the same opinion. Churchill wrote:
Churchill enjoying himself at the Sydney Street siege
‘The adherents of this sinister confederacy are mostly men reared up among the unhappy populations of countries where Jews are persecuted on account of their race…. This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxembourg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. … It has been the mainspring of every subversive movement during the Nineteenth Century;…
There is no need to exaggerate the part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution by these international and for the most part atheistical Jews.. …
Zionism offers the third sphere to the political conceptions of the Jewish race. In violent contrast to international communism, it presents to the Jew a national idea of a commanding character.’
Churchill like most of his class saw Zionism as an alternative to the attractions of revolution for Jews. Those who argue that the origins of Zionism were progressive are very much mistaken.
Below are 3 essays. Nu’man Abd al-Wahid tells the real story of Dunkirk and how Britain stabbed in the back its two partners, France and Belgium. Shashi Tharoor writes about how, in the wake of Hollywood’s hagiographical film ‘Churchill’ Hollywood was rewarding a mass murderer. The Independent’s former columnist Johan Hari, writes in the same vein about the dark side of Churchill, the man for whom we face a 10 year prison sentence if we damage his statue.
Hollywood’s “Dunkirk” movie, released to rave reviews in the midst of the Trump presidential era and a year after the UK Brexit vote, clocked in more than $500 million at the box office worldwide. The so-called ‘World War Two’ blockbuster depicted retreating British troops in the French coastal city of Dunkirk evading the German air force as they attempted to safely board boats back to England. But how exactly did this desperate state of affairs arise? This essay provides a general overview of the military developments which led to the retreat at Dunkirk and identifies the similarities in the world view of the main belligerent parties.
No one kissed their loved one’s goodbye and then embarked on the journey to fight in the Hundred Years’ War or the Thirty Years’ War for that matter. Likewise, when war was declared many centuries later in Europe in September 1939 no one absurdly tempted fate to announce World War Two had began. Actually, in 1939 there was then no such conflict known as World War One. The war that is now known as World War One, was then known as the ‘Great War’. Yet as the cold European autumn and winter of 1939 naturally seasoned into the following year’s spring, the latest round of European warfare pitched two white supremacist camps against each other.
On one side were the imperialist nations of Britain, France, Belgium, Holland and their allies. Western historians possess an empirically-lacking fascination to refer to the imperialist nations in their literature as “democracies” or “allies” rather than for what they actually were, white supremacist nations who denied democracy to hundreds of millions of non-white inhabitants in their colonial territories while plundering them. These four imperial powers had prided themselves on conquering and plundering colonial territories for the last 300 years.
On the other side, was Nazi Germany and its allies. Nazi Germany was led by Mr. Adolf Hitler, a dictator with strong racial prejudices similar to those held by the leaders of the imperialist camp. The British had become affluent and powerful through the trans-Atlantic slave trade and then largely by gorging itself on plundering and impoverishing India.
The French had also profited from enslaving Africans and then established rule over Western parts of Africa and some territories in Far East Asia, the Belgians had plundered the Congo, the Dutch had colonial territories in South America and Far East Asia. Germany was relatively late to this manner of European material enrichment on the backs of the darker peoples of the world and as we shall see Mr. Hitler was determined to establish his Empire, the Third Reich, in Europe rather than in Africa and Asia.
This account of the war between the west European imperialist camp and Nazi Germany in May 1940 mainly takes its lead from Nicholas Harman’s “Dunkirk: Necessary Myth”, Clive Ponting’s “1940: Myth and Reality” and Len Deighton’s “Blood, Tears and Folly”.
Between Hitler launching the war by invading Poland in 1939 and the commencement of land hostilities with the imperialist forces there was a war initiated by the British against Norway. Winston Churchill, who at the outbreak of the war held the ministerial position of the First Lord of the Admiralty (i.e. the Minister responsible for the British Navy) conjured an idea to drag neutral Norway into the war in April 1940 by mining its ports with a view to cut off raw materials destined for Germany ports. The Germans got a whiff of this idea and decided to invade Norway, easily securing the ports and making short shrift of the British and French forces.
Having failed at Norway, the then British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain agreed the buck stopped with him, accepted responsibility for the defeat and had the decency to resign. This ironically, propelled Mr. Churchill into the hot seat even though it was his idea which culminated in the Norway fiasco.
This was a far cry from one of the pivotal moments during the Great War of 1914-1918, when another Churchill idea to send the British Empire’s forces through the Dardanelles straits to capture Constantinople from the Ottomans led to the Empire’s resounding defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Turks at Gallipoli in 1915. Then he resigned and left the war cabinet. This time, he was rewarded for his failure and became Prime Minister on the 10th May 1940, the very day Germany initiated its land war on the Low Countries. As Britain had violated Norway’s neutrality, Germany violated the neutrality of Holland and Belgium.
The imperialist camp had assumed the war was to be a complete action replay of the Great War. The major battles of this war were fought in the north of France and the Franco-Belgian border. Hitler had another idea. Although he led the imperialists to believe there would be a replay of the Great War, he simultaneously sent well equipped German divisions south to the Ardennes forest which mostly separates Germany and France.
At the Ardennes some of Germany’s best troops easily faced off against the weaker French forces. France had sent its well equipped and best trained troops north because no one in the imperialist military hierarchy was convinced the Nazis would possess the audacity to cross the seemingly insurmountable Ardennes.
Holland was the first to surrender after putting up a short fight for about 72 hours. Hitherto, these Dutch white supremacists had simply wanted to be left in peace with their imperialist loot in South America and more profitably in the Far East. As one sympathetic historian notes:
“The Dutch stood apart from other Europeans…Their worldwide colonies provided oil and raw materials: Indonesia (at that time the Dutch East Indies of Java and Sumatra) was the ‘spice islands’ so many early explorers [i.e. European pirates] had sought. Neutrality in the First World War had further enriched the Dutch, who had hoped to remain neutral in the Second World War.”
Note the word “provided” as if these colonies had a choice. The Dutch handed in their official surrender notice to the German Nazis on the 14th May. Three days before on the 11th, the British and French forces countered German forces in Belgium. Herein, at the Battle of Gembloux, the French Army was composed mainly of Moroccans and although the Moroccans were up against the German Panzer divisions supported by far superior air force, they successfully fended off the German attack with “incredible bravery”. The Moroccans lost 2000 men, 27% of the total division. Another mostly Moroccan division “along the Dyle Defence line” to the north of Gembloux fended off another German attack. But this was all to no avail as by the 13th May the Germans had blazed through the Ardennes and were already in France.
By the 15th May the Germans had occupied the French fortress at Sedan. At this point the “allies” didn’t know which direction the German forces would progress. Were they to continue straight across towards Paris or move north to confront the imperialist forces in the North? If they were to send their forces south to confront the Germans flowing out of the Ardennes, then this would make the German advance through the Low Countries easier.
Lo and behold the imperialist forces of Britain, France and Belgium were found wanting, out-witted and out-flanked as they were finely and valiantly assembled in anticipation of the Great War replay. They had thrown all their eggs into one basket in Belgium and the Franco-Belgian border and were now caught in a pincer movement. They were very much not unlike the proverbial deer caught in headlights. The Germans turned their attention northwards.
Meanwhile, after the fall of Sedan, the French sacked the supreme Allied Commander of the imperialist forces, General Maurice Gamelin. He was replaced by General Maxime Weygand who was flown from France’s colonial territory of Lebanon where he had settled after spending many years administering another colonial territory, Syria, where no doubt, he had engaged in keeping the natives in check as France lorded it over them.
The leader of the British forces was General Lord John Gort who commanded five British regular divisions as well as other territorial divisions aka British Expeditionary Force (BEF). In theory, Gort took orders from the supreme Allied Commander, first Gameline and then Weygand. Weygand’s immediate junior was the head of the French First Group of Armies, General Billotte.
Panic ensued in the imperialist camp. As the British, French and Belgians began to entertain different military objectives: the Belgians to defend Belgium, the French to counter-attack the Germans, the British to do a scurry to the French coast and back to England. Imperialism and colonialism are forms of state sanctioned theft of other nations’ resources and the European battlefield of May 1940 was to glowingly illustrate there is no honour among thieves. All British forces were now in full retreat looking to avoid the Nazi military pincer and entrapment.
As the British scurried from the fight in Belgium they helped themselves to the resources of the local civilian population or as Harman writes, “stealing from civilians soon became official policy.” As such they stole meat, chickens, ducks, eggs and milk to help maintain their heroic retreat to the coast moving forward. Belgian civilians who resisted British looting of their stock were summarily executed, ‘Nazi style’. The legendary British Major General, Bernard Montgomery stole a herd of cattle as he retreated. It was one thing for Montgomery to earn his stripes crushing indigenous Palestinians resisting the British Zionist-colonial project in Palestine in the late 1930s, but in May 1940 he was just another thieving imperialist white supremacist on the run for his life. Alternatively, it could be argued the British army compensated for their unwillingness to fight the advancing Nazis in Belgium by showcasing their martial qualities on defenceless civilians who they were supposedly there to protect from Nazi occupation! How ironic or as Harman writes,
“It is small wonder if local civilians were anxious only to see the back of them [British Army] – even if the replacement was to be the German army whose propaganda had plenty of material to work with.”
Let’s also keep in mind that if the British army behaved this unscrupulously towards their fellow white supremacist Europeans and allies in the midst of war against a common foe, what more cruelty and exploitation had they inflicted on Africa and Asia in the previous 300 years?
Two days after the fall of Sedan to Nazi forces, Lord Gort began to exert his unwillingness to comply with orders from his immediate French superiors and specifically from General Billotte. The Frenchman had wanted the leader of the British forces to “make a stand” and fight but Gort clearly was already thinking of dashing for the French coast.
From the 18th May onwards, the BEF leadership had begun discussing actual plans for withdrawal back to England via the coastal town of Dunkirk. General Oliver Lees is credited with initiating this idea. On the 19th May, at Lord Gort’s Headquarters, “it was privately agreed that Leese’s plan of withdrawal to Dunkirk would be adopted if necessary…Nothing was said to the French on the matter.” On the 20th May, Churchill instructed that “a large number of small vessels” to be assembled on the French coast. The British were laying the foundations for their skullduggery against their allies. In effect, within ten days of actual land hostilities commencing, the white supremacists of Nazi Germany had the imperialist white supremacists on the run and was in the process of wiping the battlefield floor with them.
So as the imperialist nations were being hemmed into a pocket of north eastern Europe from two different directions by the Nazis, Dunkirk took on a multi-layered meaning and purpose, one for each of the remaining imperialist nations. For the Belgians, it was a launch pad to defend Belgium after the lightening quick Nazi advances into their territory; for the French it was a stronghold to stage counter-attacks against the Germans and for the British imperialists it was a charming coastal destination for an “I’m alright Jack” escape back to England.
According to Harman, this divergence came to the fore when a conference was convened in the Belgian city, Ypres, on 21st May among the imperialists. The overall allied commander, Weygand arrived at 3.30pm to be greeted by King Leopold of Belgium. The commander of the First French Group of Armies General Billote was also present. The head of British forces, Lord Gort didn’t arrive until 9pm. By this time, Weygand had already returned to Paris to resume charge of the war. “Then and later the French believed” writes Harman, “that Gort deliberately missed this vital conference.” This belief is reasonable as Gort was already thinking of fleeing at this point. Furthermore, at this meeting, Gort and the British advisor to King Leopold, Roger Keyes, also convinced the Belgian King not to surrender.
When the conference ended and as Billotte was driving back to his base in the dusky evening, his vehicle crashed and he succumbed to his injuries the following day and died. This death can be attributed to Lord Gort’s lateness the previous day. If Gort had shown a modicum of respect to his “allies” and turned up on time Billotte would most likely have left the meeting in daylight and not crashed. So once again, the French found themselves looking for a successor to an important military position who wasn’t confirmed until the 25th May. All during this time, the Germans were advancing and the British intention and conviction to head for the sands of Dunkirk became more resolute.
British disgracefulness reached new heights on the 23rd May in the French city of Boulogne where the British and French imperialist forces were supposedly trying to fend off a German advance into the city. The first act of disgrace was when some British troops, having looted liquor from local shops began fighting French forces. The French returned fire and killed British soldiers. Secondly, once composure was restored in the ranks, the British moved from fighting a rear guard action to hopping onto waiting ships without informing the French who were left “in the dark as to British intentions”. As the British boarded the ships, they vandalised the harbour preventing their French allies from either being militarily supplied so they could continue the fight or be rescued from the sea. In Boulogne, British forces ultimately played a role to the detriment of French forces and to the advantage of the Nazis.
Luckily for the retreating Britons and to the dismay of his generals, Hitler’s enchantment and admiration of the British Empire got the better of him. He ordered the German advance to stop on the 24th May and a golden opportunity was missed to capture the British Army which would’ve inevitably, at the very least, forced another crisis in the British government and potentially Churchill’s resignation.
According to the current British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, if
“Hitler had listened to his generals, he could have smashed us [the British Army]…He could have killed or captured the bulk of Britain’s fighting forces, and deprived this country of the physical ability to resist.”
Much argumentation and “mystery” (this is also Johnson’s opinion) has ensued on why Hitler ordered a halt to the German war machine when they clearly had the upper hand. The fact is the main political reason Hitler put halt on the German advance was because he admired the British Empire which he saw as “the solid achievement of his ideas of racial domination.” According to the historian Niall Ferguson, Hitler “repeatedly expressed his admiration of British imperialism.” Hitler’s vision was not only of emulating the British Empire but of a future alliance with Britain to co-manage the affairs of mankind.  Hitler’s ultimate aim was to establish a German Empire by ‘enslaving’ Russians on the basis of how the British Empire had ‘enslaved’ Indians for the previous 200 years.
“What India was for England” declared the German Nazi dictator, “the territories of Russia will be for us.” For Hitler, the British occupation of India was the blueprint for his evil, the Third Reich. As such, Hitler believed the wealth of Britain was “the result…of the capitalist exploitation of the three hundred and fifty million slaves.” In the words of author Sven Lindqvist from his masterpiece Exterminate All The Brutes, Hitler wanted to create a “continental equivalent of the British Empire.”
Hitler had not yet reached British levels of barbarity which according to the Indian politician, Shashi Tharoor, led to between 30 and 35 million Indians perishing in the “British Colonial Holocaust”, as a direct result of British colonial policy. Before British colonialism India produced 24% of the world’s GDP, almost 200 years later it was less than 5%. Average life expectancy was reduced to less than 30 years. The economist, Professor Utsa Patnaik, argues that Britain looted India to the tune of $43 trillion over this period.
By halting and allowing the British Army to escape, Hitler was clearly hoping this goodwill gesture would be appreciated by Imperial Britain in any future peace talks. In effect, this brief German military halt helped to allow British forces retreat to Dunkirk and establish a perimeter around the town.
Also, on the 24th May, the French were given a strong impression the British planned to desert the fight and evacuate. A French General, Maurice Blanchard who had replaced Billotte went to visit Gort but only found Gort’s chief of staff, Henry Pownall who denied the rumour. When it was brought to the French leadership’s knowledge that the British were planning to evacuate, Churchill’s personal liaison officer to the French government totally denied it and even referred to the Frenchman who had brought the news to the leadership as out of his mind and a ‘broken man’.
Surreptitiously, the British had wanted to keep their allies fighting for as long as possible as they retreated and evacuated. On the 26th May British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden instructed Gort to keep the French and Belgians in the dark about British evacuation plans. On the same day, after Sunday church service at Westminster Abbey, Churchill lunched with the French Prime Minister, Paul Reynaud and reassured him of “Britain’s absolute commitment to victory” knowing British troops had already began to depart from Dunkirk.
As Reynaud left for France, Churchill gave the order for the abscondment to officially commence. The name given to this skullduggery was “Operation Dynamo”. Not knowing British plans, Weygand continued to advise imperialist forces as though the British were still in the fight. He instructed French troops to resist at Dunkirk “to the limit” because the French army was preparing Dunkirk as a springboard for an imperialist counter-attack. But as the French planned to fight, Britain was disengaging. In effect, Churchill stabbed Reynaud in the back in the midst of an existential war after attending Church service which no doubt had invoked the teachings of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. To be fair to Churchill, if France was Britain and Britain was France, Reynaud would have probably done the same to Churchill because there is no honour among imperialist thieves.
Coincidently on the same day as ‘Operation Dynamo’ officially began, Hitler resumed the fight against the remaining imperialist forces. Belgium soon surrendered on the 27th May and a Belgian government in exile was established in London. This exiled government was entirely funded by the Belgian exploitation of the Congo, or as the Colonial Secretary of the exiled government acknowledged:
“During the war, the Congo was able to finance all the expenditure of the Belgian government in London, including the diplomatic service as well as the cost of our armed forces in Europe and Africa…In fact, thanks to the resources of the Congo, the Belgian government in London had not to borrow a shilling or a dollar, and the Belgian gold reserve could be left intact.”
Imperialist Belgium capitulated and was now fully occupied by the Nazis but on the ‘bright side’ they could still plunder the Congo even in exile.
Great Britain through its ambassador squeamishly admitted to the French leadership on 30th May that they had been deserting since the 26th May. After this admittance, Frenchman were allowed in large numbers to board ships and other vessels to England. The deception had officially lasted four days. On the 28th May, Lord Gort conjured another jolly idea on how to manage the retreat. He requested that Canadian forces stationed in England cross over to Dunkirk to protect the British army as they boarded on ships back to England. This idea reached the head of the Canadian army, who no doubt a very loyal subject to His Majesty the King of England, declined the request and unfortunately Gort was denied the opportunity to stab the Canadians in the back as well as the front.
About 338,000 imperialist “soldiers” were successfully evacuated back to England but all the BEF’s main weaponry was left behind on the beaches for the Germans. The “gallant” (Churchill’s characterisation) Lord Gort kindly left behind his clothes and personal belongings.
The retreat was completed on the 4th June. Mr. Churchill in his humbug speech to the British parliament on this day partly pins the blame of the British Army’s defeat and Belgium’s occupation on the latter’s “fatal neutrality” at the beginning of the war. The truth is the Belgians asked the British to counter-attack five times in late May 1940, but the British chose to scurry to the coast. Also, when specifically Churchill took the initiative to violate Norway’s neutrality in April 1940, the German Nazis reacted and still routed the French and British imperialists. Churchill then claims that in Calais a “memorable resistance” took place but he doesn’t mention the main reason some fighting happened was because the French had complained about the British scurry at Boulogne the previous day and out of shame Churchill ordered a political decision not to disengage, even though the “British Brigadier” on the spot was all set to embark back to England.
Churchill claimed the Dunkirk evacuation was a “miracle of deliverance” but it was also Hitler’s political decision to halt the advance of the German Army on the 24th May that played no small part in making this “miracle” manifest. The most memorable and remarkable line of Churchill’s speech is when he posits the future proposition that Britain,
“shall fight in France, shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air shall fight on the beaches,…on the landing grounds,…fight in the fields and in the streets,…in the hills.”
Putting aside that Britain had already shown no interest whatsoever in fighting in France the previous month, that the British had left their best weapons on the beaches of Dunkirk and taking into account Churchill’s history of military failure this future intent may be considered, at that moment, a touch tenuous or even fabulous. (Over 90% of the European land battles in what became World War Two was eventually fought between the German Army and the Soviet Union.) Naturally, his speech ends with laying the foundations for a future scapegoat, namely hoping the “New World” (i.e. the United States) voluntarily steps in to “rescue” the imperialist white supremacist nations from the German Nazis. Ultimately, if Churchill was totally confident in British potential resistance in a splendid range of geographical terrains, both urban and rural, why did he end his speech pining to be rescued by the “New World”?
Behind the political scene, the director of British intelligence in the British Army, Major-General Mason-Macfarlane invented an enduring myth claiming the reason the British needed to leave France was because the French had failed to fight when in fact it was the British forces which had spent most of May 1940 stabbing their allies in the back and retreating. This lie continues to this day and was famously reiterated during the build up to the Iraq War of 2003 when the American Defence secretary categorised French opposition to the upcoming war as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys”.
One of the consequences of the British retreat at Dunkirk was that it weakened the imperialist camp’s alliance. Having chased the British imperialists into the English channel, the Nazis turned their attention towards Paris and occupying France. One of the excuses brandished for France’s defeat is because its “best soldiers and the best fighting units were abroad, scattered through the French Empire in Africa, the Levant and Indo-China.”
Apparently, French nobility to establish the rule of law in Africa and Asia had domestically made them military vulnerable! The French signed the armistice with the Nazis on the 22nd June 1940 which in effect heralded what in British historical mythology the aforementioned “finest hour”. This supposed “hour” was the year in which all that remained in the slugfest for the crown to be the leading European white supremacist nation were Imperial Britain and Nazi Germany.
Almost a year later on the 22nd June 1941 Nazi Germany and its allies invaded Soviet Russia. Whereas, the British imperialist occupation of India occurred in stages beginning with taking over the ruling of the Bengal region in 1750s and then moving west. So the Punjab province in western India wasn’t brought under British rule until 1849. The British had annexed Awadh region in 1856.
On the other side of the world, the American republic began as 13 colonies on the east coast in the 1770s but fuelled with profits from enslaved Africans working on plantations, the attendant ethnic cleansing and genocides of the indigenous population, the republic encompassed 48 states by 1900.
Hitler wanted to occupy, dismantle and de facto enslave Russia in one foul swoop in a matter of months, even weeks. What the British Empire ‘accumulated’ over a period of almost 200 years, Hitler wanted to achieve within a matter of weeks. Buoyed by the speed of his victory against the imperialists, the Germans (and many others) thought they’ll be victorious over Moscow no easier than they had over Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and for what it’s worth, the British Army. According to one military historian, Hitler saw Russia’s defeat as “the preliminary to a final settlement with Britain.”
Once Hitler turned the Nazi German war machine east, to use Orwell’s words in the epigraph of this essay, the “extenuation and perpetuation of our own methods” were brutally applied. The genocide against the Jewish people was ordered to go ahead in late 1941 and eventually killed 6 million people of the Jewish faith. Millions of other minorities perished. Genocide was nothing new to the imperialist Europeans. They each had committed their genocides in Africa, Asia or the Americas but in 1940 Hitler was yet to commit the genocides most of the world now know he committed.
Britain’s record in India has already been touched upon. The Belgians had killed 10 million people in the Congo. The French had killed a third of the Algerian population between 1830 and 1871. As African-Guyanese academic-activist, Walter Rodney wrote in his seminal, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa:
“When Europeans put millions of their brothers (Jews) into ovens under the Nazis, the chickens were coming home to roost. Such behaviour inside of “democratic” Europe was not as strange as it is sometimes made out to be.”
Indeed, Mr. Churchill was an unabashed apologist for ethnic cleansing and genocide. As late as 1937 he had told a parliamentary enquiry on the indigenous uprising against the British-Zionist colonial project in Palestine (which culminated in the creation of Israel in 1948) that,
Churchill was clearly boasting that like the indigenous populations of America and Australia, the Palestinian Arabs lacked power to resist the inevitable ethnic cleansing the British were laying the foundations for in Palestine. Unlike the Red Indians, black people of Australia or the future Palestinians, the Russians had the power to resist the Nazi war machine at great cost with the killing of at least 20 million Russians and the devastation of its main cities.
In conclusion, the desperate British military retreat at Dunkirk was a result of the British leaderships’ complete unwillingness to fight the Germans, backstabbing its so-called allies, barefaced deception and Mr. Hitler’s vision to partner with the British Empire. The war in 1939 and 1940 was a war among western European white supremacists, genocidists and imperialists.
In the last half of 1940 and stretching well into 1941, Western European civilisation and culture culminated into two genocidal monsters, Churchill and Hitler, each as genocidally racist as the other, battling it out for the blood-soaked crown of European white supremacist leadership. The main distinguishing feature between these pair of real life ogres was one believed in Empire and its attendant genocides in Africa and Asia, while the other wanted to establish his variation of Empire and its attendant genocides in Europe. As the Indian leader, Mohandas Gandhi remarked, “Hitlerism and Churchillism are in fact the same thing…the difference is only one of degree.” Fortunately, Hitler failed in his genocidal enterprise to establish a Third Reich but to assess whether the British Army’s shenanigans and desertion to Dunkirk in May 1940 was the most cowardly behaviour in military history is beyond the scope of this essay.
Nu’man Abd al-Wahid is the author of “Debunking the Myth of America’s Poodle” which conclusively shows that British militaristic foreign policy in the so-called ‘War on Terror’ is rooted in the history of British imperialism and not because of any subservience to United States foreign policy. A book Professor Gerald Horne, author of White Supremacy Confronted has called an “illuminating, scalding and scorching takedown of British imperialism.”
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 George Orwell ‘Notes on the Way’, Time and Tide, 30 March and 6 April 1940 in Peter Davison (ed.), The Complete Works of George Orwell, Vol.12, (London: Secker & Warburg, 2000), pg.123
“History,” Winston Churchill said, “will be kind to me, for I intend to write it myself.” He needn’t have bothered. He was one of the great mass murderers of the 20th century, yet is the only one, unlike Hitler and Stalin, to have escaped historical odium in the West. He has been crowned with a Nobel Prize (for literature, no less), and now, an actor portraying him (Gary Oldman) has been awarded an Oscar.
As Hollywood confirms, Churchill’s reputation (as what Harold Evans has called “the British Lionheart on the ramparts of civilization”) rests almost entirely on his stirring rhetoric and his talent for a fine phrase during World War II. “We shall not flag nor fail. We shall go on to the end. … We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets. … We shall never surrender.” (The revisionist British historian John Charmley dismissed this as “sublime nonsense.”)
Words, in the end, are all that Churchill admirers can point to. His actions are another matter altogether.
During World War II, Churchill declared himself in favor of “terror bombing.” He wrote that he wanted “absolutely devastating, exterminating attacks by very heavy bombers.” Horrors such as the firebombing of Dresden were the result.
In the fight for Irish independence, Churchill, in his capacity as secretary of state for war and air, was one of the few British officials in favor of bombing Irish protesters, suggesting in 1920 that airplanes should use “machine-gun fire or bombs” to scatter them.
Dealing with unrest in Mesopotamia in 1921, as secretary of state for the colonies, Churchill acted as a war criminal: “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against the uncivilised tribes; it would spread a lively terror.” He ordered large-scale bombing of Mesopotamia, with an entire village wiped out in 45 minutes.
In Afghanistan, Churchill declared that the Pashtuns “needed to recognise the superiority of [the British] race” and that “all who resist will be killed without quarter.” He wrote: “We proceeded systematically, village by village, and we destroyed the houses, filled up the wells, blew down the towers, cut down the great shady trees, burned the crops and broke the reservoirs in punitive devastation. … Every tribesman caught was speared or cut down at once.”
In Kenya, Churchill either directed or was complicit in policies involving the forced relocation of local people from the fertile highlands to make way for white colonial settlers and the forcing of more than 150,000 people into concentration camps. Rape, castration, lit cigarettes on tender spots, and electric shocks were all used by the British authorities to torture Kenyans under Churchill’s rule.
But the principal victims of Winston Churchill were the Indians — “a beastly people with a beastly religion,” as he charmingly called them. He wanted to use chemical weapons in India but was shot down by his cabinet colleagues, whom he criticized for their “squeamishness,” declaring that “the objections of the India Office to the use of gas against natives are unreasonable.”
Churchill’s beatification as an apostle of freedom seems all the more preposterous given his 1941 declaration that the Atlantic Charter’s principles would not apply to India and the colored colonies. He refused to see people of color as entitled to the same rights as himself. “Gandhi-ism and all it stands for,” he declared, “will, sooner or later, have to be grappled with and finally crushed.”
In such matters, Churchill was the most reactionary of Englishmen, with views so extreme they cannot be excused as being reflective of their times. Even his own secretary of state for India, Leopold Amery, confessed that he could see very little difference between Churchill’s attitude and Adolf Hitler’s.
As a dedicated racist Churchill was a strong believer in racial purity and selective breeding – eugenics
Thanks to Churchill, some 4 million Bengalis starved to death in a 1943 famine. Churchill ordered the diversion of food from starving Indian civilians to well-supplied British soldiers and even to top up European stockpiles in Greece and elsewhere. When reminded of the suffering of his Indian victims, his response was that the famine was their own fault, he said, for “breeding like rabbits.”
Madhusree Mukerjee’s searing account of Churchill’s role in the Bengal famine, “Churchill’s Secret War,” documents that while Indians starved, prices for foodgrains were inflated by British purchases and India’s own surplus grains were exported, while Australian ships laden with wheat were not allowed to unload their cargo at Calcutta (where the bodies of those who had died of starvation littered the streets). Instead, Churchill ordered that grain be shipped to storage depots in the Mediterranean and the Balkans to increase the buffer stocks for a possible future invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia. European warehouses filled up as Bengalis died.
This week’s Oscar rewards yet another hagiography of this odious man. To the Iraqis whom Churchill advocated gassing, the Greek protesters on the streets of Athens who were mowed down on Churchill’s orders in 1944, sundry Pashtuns and Irish, as well as to Indians like myself, it will always be a mystery why a few bombastic speeches have been enough to wash the bloodstains off Churchill’s racist hands.
Many of us will remember Churchill as a war criminal and an enemy of decency and humanity, a blinkered imperialist untroubled by the oppression of non-white peoples. Ultimately, his great failure — his long darkest hour — was his constant effort to deny us freedom.
Winston Churchill is rightly remembered for leading Britain through her finest hour – but what if he also led the country through her most shameful hour? What if, in addition to rousing a nation to save the world from the Nazis, he fought for a raw white supremacism and a concentration camp network of his own? This question burns through Richard Toye’s new history, Churchill’s Empire, and is even seeping into the Oval Office.
George W Bush left a bust of Churchill near his desk in the White House, in an attempt to associate himself with the war leader’s heroic stand against fascism. Barack Obama had it returned to Britain. It’s not hard to guess why: his Kenyan grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was imprisoned without trial for two years and was tortured on Churchill’s watch, for resisting Churchill’s empire.
Can these clashing Churchills be reconciled? Do we live, at the same time, in the world he helped to save, and the world he helped to trash? Toye, one of Britain’s smartest young historians, has tried to pick through these questions dispassionately – and he should lead us, at last and at least, to a more mature conversation about our greatest national icon.
Churchill was born in 1874 into a Britain that was washing the map pink, at the cost of washing distant nations blood red. Victoria had just been crowned Empress of India, and the scramble for Africa was only a few years away. At Harrow School and then Sandhurst, he was told a simple story: the superior white man was conquering the primitive, dark-skinned natives, and bringing them the benefits of civilisation. As soon as he could, Churchill charged off to take his part in “a lot of jolly little wars against barbarous peoples“. In the Swat valley, now part of Pakistan, he experienced, fleetingly, a crack of doubt. He realised that the local population was fighting back because of “the presence of British troops in lands the local people considered their own,” just as Britain would if she were invaded. But Churchill soon suppressed this thought, deciding instead they were merely deranged jihadists whose violence was explained by a “strong aboriginal propensity to kill”.
He gladly took part in raids that laid waste to whole valleys, destroying houses and burning crops. He then sped off to help reconquer the Sudan, where he bragged that he personally shot at least three “savages“.
The young Churchill charged through imperial atrocities, defending each in turn. When concentration camps were built in South Africa, for white Boers, he said they produced “the minimum of suffering”. The death toll was almost 28,000, and when at least 115,000 black Africans were likewise swept into British camps, where 14,000 died, he wrote only of his “irritation that Kaffirs should be allowed to fire on white men“. Later, he boasted of his experiences there: “That was before war degenerated. It was great fun galloping about.”
Then as an MP he demanded a rolling programme of more conquests, based on his belief that “the Aryan stock is bound to triumph”. There seems to have been an odd cognitive dissonance in his view of the “natives”. In some of his private correspondence, he appears to really believe they are helpless children who will “willingly, naturally, gratefully include themselves within the golden circle of an ancient crown”.
But when they defied this script, Churchill demanded they be crushed with extreme force. As Colonial Secretary in the 1920s, he unleashed the notorious Black and Tan thugs on Ireland’s Catholic civilians, and when the Kurds rebelled against British rule, he said: “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes…[It] would spread a lively terror.”
Of course, it’s easy to dismiss any criticism of these actions as anachronistic. Didn’t everybody think that way then? One of the most striking findings of Toye’s research is that they really didn’t: even at the time, Churchill was seen as at the most brutal and brutish end of the British imperialist spectrum. Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was warned by Cabinet colleagues not to appoint him because his views were so antedeluvian. Even his startled doctor, Lord Moran, said of other races: “Winston thinks only of the colour of their skin.”
Many of his colleagues thought Churchill was driven by a deep loathing of democracy for anyone other than the British and a tiny clique of supposedly superior races. This was clearest in his attitude to India. When Mahatma Gandhi launched his campaign of peaceful resistance, Churchill raged that he “ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back.” As the resistance swelled, he announced: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.” This hatred killed. To give just one, major, example, in 1943 a famine broke out in Bengal, caused – as the Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen has proved – by the imperial policies of the British. Up to 3 million people starved to death while British officials begged Churchill to direct food supplies to the region. He bluntly refused. He raged that it was their own fault for “breeding like rabbits“. At other times, he said the plague was “merrily” culling the population.
Skeletal, half-dead people were streaming into the cities and dying on the streets, but Churchill – to the astonishment of his staff – had only jeers for them. This rather undermines the claims that Churchill’s imperialism was motivated only by an altruistic desire to elevate the putatively lower races.
Hussein Onyango Obama is unusual among Churchill’s victims only in one respect: his story has been rescued from the slipstream of history, because his grandson ended up as President of the US. Churchill believed that Kenya’s fertile highlands should be the preserve of the white settlers, and approved the clearing out of the local “blackamoors“. He saw the local Kikuyu as “brutish children“. When they rebelled under Churchill’s post-war premiership, some 150,000 of them were forced at gunpoint into detention camps – later dubbed “Britain’s gulag” by Pulitzer-prize winning historian, Professor Caroline Elkins. She studied the detention camps for five years for her remarkable book Britain’s Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya, explains the tactics adopted under Churchill to crush the local drive for independence. “Electric shock was widely used, as well as cigarettes and fire,” she writes. “The screening teams whipped, shot, burned, and mutilated Mau Mau suspects.” Hussein Onyango Obama never truly recovered from the torture he endured.
Many of the wounds Churchill inflicted have still not healed: you can find them on the front pages any day of the week. He is the man who invented Iraq, locking together three conflicting peoples behind arbitrary borders that have been bleeding ever since. He is the Colonial Secretary who offered the Over-Promised Land to both the Jews and the Arabs – although he seems to have privately felt racist contempt for both. He jeered at the Palestinians as “barbaric hoards who ate little but camel dung,” while he was appalled that the Israelis “take it for granted that the local population will be cleared out to suit their convenience”.
True, occasionally Churchill did become queasy about some of the most extreme acts of the Empire. He fretted at the slaughter of women and children, and cavilled at the Amritsar massacre of 1919. Toye tries to present these doubts as evidence of moderation – yet they almost never seem to have led Churchill to change his actions. If you are determined to rule people by force against their will, you can hardly be surprised when atrocities occur. Rule Britannia would inexorably produce a Cruel Britannia.
So how can the two be reconciled? Was Churchill’s moral opposition to Nazism a charade, masking the fact he was merely trying to defend the British Empire from a rival?
The US civil rights leader Richard B. Moore, quoted by Toye, said it was “a rare and fortunate coincidence” that at that moment “the vital interests of the British Empire [coincided] with those of the great overwhelming majority of mankind”. But this might be too soft in its praise. If Churchill had only been interested in saving the Empire, he could probably have cut a deal with Hitler. No: he had a deeper repugnance for Nazism than that. He may have been a thug, but he knew a greater thug when he saw one – and we may owe our freedom today to this wrinkle in history.
This, in turn, led to the great irony of Churchill’s life. In resisting the Nazis, he produced some of the richest prose-poetry in defence of freedom and democracy ever written. It was a cheque he didn’t want black or Asian people to cash – but they refused to accept that the Bank of Justice was empty. As the Ghanaian nationalist Kwame Nkrumah wrote: “All the fair, brave words spoken about freedom that had been broadcast to the four corners of the earth took seed and grew where they had not been intended.” Churchill lived to see democrats across Britain’s dominions and colonies – from nationalist leader Aung San in Burma to Jawarlal Nehru in India – use his own intoxicating words against him.
Ultimately, the words of the great and glorious Churchill who resisted dictatorship overwhelmed the works of the cruel and cramped Churchill who tried to impose it on the darker-skinned peoples of the world. The fact that we now live in a world where a free and independent India is a superpower eclipsing Britain, and a grandson of the “savages” is the most powerful man in the world, is a repudiation of Churchill at his ugliest – and a sweet, ironic victory for Churchill at his best.